For example, how do I confirm that children listed from marriage are correct. Who puts the information together? I typed in a relative's name and came up with a very vast family tree going back centuries. Can I trust that this information is right?
Well, in my tree that goes way back, I check the sources. No sources then it may be a figment of someone's imagination.
But I wait. I try to find sources for the ancestors beginning with me and going back that way. I realized it is much more difficult to go from somewhere on the extended tree and try to find source back to me or even their family.
I hope this is helpful.
Thanks Anitra it can be very complex can't it. Unfortunately for me it all hinges on this one family member and there's lots of conflicting info so I'll just have to persevere. And yes it is fun I am really enjoying the journey.
Your problem involves a number of factors but, primarily, involves two obvious ones. Firstly, how much time you have to investigate (in your case, this particular family member) in order to find any available sources that will "prove" the identity of a person. Secondly, whether - for all your efforts - there might still be no way to firmly establish the facts, as opposed to two or more theories.
For example, will I ever truly be able to establish which of two individuals named William Fenwick - who lived in the same parish at the same time - actually married my female ancestor in the 18th century? There are no wills to be found that might differentiate one from the other and (without ages or other detail) even their burials provide no real clues as to who had married who - and who was being buried.
Frustratingly, some relationships and identities are unlikely ever to be firmly established. However, I would be inclined to remain optimistic. In my case, it has sometimes taken over ten years before I have come across that vital piece of information that shows exactly who an ancestor, or relative, actually was.
One tip - with females, always assume they might have married previously: especially if you cannot find a birth / baptism for them. I searched for years for an Ann HUGGUP, when it transpired she was actually Ann JUDSON, who had been widowed in her early 20s. (In fact her married name - recorded in the entry of her 2nd marriage was even wrong: it turned out to be HUGGINS, not HUGGUP! ) So many pitfalls that it isn't always "fun" working on ones genealogy!